I have taken a number of flights within Australia over the past six months and have noticed something peculiar to those of us who live in the States: In Australia, there always seems to be ample overhead bin space and passengers do not hover around the gate to rush onto the plane. However in the States, it seems like there is an attitude of “every man woman and child for themselves”. I must admit I am guilty of this behavior. My behavior is perhaps even more unacceptable because I have top status with United, and am therefore allowed to board with the precious “Group 1” cohort…yet I still feel this pressing need to queue up in Group 1 and be near the head of Group 1, even though I am guaranteed overhead bin space!!I do not know why this difference exists, nor why I fall into this trap (Charlie Brown syndrome?), but the dichotomy between the two situations reminds me of a scene from the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”, where Russell Crowe’s character, John Nash, is sitting at a bar with several of his Princeton classmates as they admire four women: one woman is a very attractive blonde while the others are “merely” pretty (See video clip at: Clip from A Beautiful Mind). Everyone is fighting over who will get a date with attractive blonde and the Princeton economists joke, “Well Adam Smith is right: In competition individual ambitions serves the common good…every man for himself”. But Crowe’s character arrives at an insight that ultimately leads to the 1994 Nobel Prize for John Nash. He excitedly tells his friends:
“Adam Smith needs revision…if we all go for the blonde, we block each other and not a single one of us will get her….But what if no one goes for the blonde? We don’t get in each other’s way, and we don’t insult the other girls. That is the only way we win… The best result will come when everyone in the group doing what is best for themselves…and the group”
So what does this have to do with business in a Supplier and Customer relationship? Well, to me, everything. Do you find it better and more healthy to partner with your customers, or do you believe it is better to doggedly pursue the “pretty blonde of short-term profitability” at all costs and try extract every bit of value out of every single interaction at the exclusion of all else? I do acknowledge the later strategy can, and is, successful for many companies. However, I personally find this way of doing business not very enjoyable, and in fact, for me, it is draining. Furthermore, Valkre believes this model of “individual ambitions serves the common good” to conducting business leaves significant money on the table for both the supplier and customer, while also leaving a residual trail of miscommunication and misaligned goals.
Valkre believes B2B business is not your Friday night Texas Holde'm game where a single winner takes all the money. B2B customer/supplier relationships are complex, human, elastic and changing: Value Propositions, and customer value, are therefore maximized when you partner with your customers to help them improve. In fact, Valkre has found it true, time and time again, that if you help your customers grow in this way, total profits across both Supplier and Customer are increased.
- Does it sometimes feel like you are engaged in a “winner takes all” battle in your B2B relationships?
- Do business interactions sometimes feel like a game of “one-upmanship”?
If so, you are leaving money on the long run table of Value Proposition improvement and Customer Value partnering.